If you are an avid coffee drinker, you have probably heard the phrase “The darker the beans, the better the espresso shot,” but is that true? From Koffee Kult’s signature blend, Verena Street’s delightful creation, to the staple Hair Bender, this article is the perfect guide for those with a newly developed interest in espresso or those looking to step out of their comfort zone and change their regular brand.
There is nothing that compares to the pure bliss of a perfectly pulled espresso shot — the unique, intense flavor, the caffeine rush, and the rich aroma wafting through the air. Likewise, these days, a coffee maker is a standard in most homes. But even the best espresso machine in the world will not give you that special cup you are looking for unless you get the finest beans to match it.
Although choosing a good brand of espresso beans may seem easy enough, there are quite a few factors you need to keep in mind while making your decision. For instance, you need to consider whether what you are buying is ethically produced. Other considerations may include the taste of each coffee brand and how much you would be willing to pay.
But not to worry, as, in this article, we will guide you through everything you need to know. And with our help regarding precisely which coffee beans to buy, you will be on your way to become a legitimate home barista!
1. Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso Blend
This syrup-sweet espresso blend has been around since the company’s inception in 1995 and has ultimately become a staple of their lineup. Usually, farmers harvest this blend in June, July, and August, in Carmo de Minas, Brazil, and Costa Rica, by the Pereira family.
The Black Cat is often available in a standard 12oz (340 g) package priced at $16. The flavor profile includes citrus chocolate, ripe cherry, caramel, and molasses. Equally important to this is that Intelligentsia promises to take your coffee seriously and provide consumers with the best cup they have ever had, encouraging them to reach out if they are not satisfied.
Intelligentsia makes direct trade and has relationships with supply farms. It also meticulously collects data, insights, and practices from its partners and shares them to improve overall quality. The Black Cat Classic boasts a rich caramel flavor and nutty undertones.
This particular combination is perfect for new and milk-based drinkers. It is also great for sensitive stomachs as it leans towards the sweeter side of blends and can stay fresh over long periods, giving great value for the money.
- It is ethically produced
- First-rate quality
- No burnt aftertaste
- Suitable for sensitive stomachs
- Can stay fresh for a long time
- The taste may dilute overtime
- Small grind size
2. Verena Street Espresso Beans
This Verena Street signature blend has a balanced yet sharp character with no bitter aftertaste. The combination includes carefully selected delicious notes from Central America, South America, and Indonesia. Moreover, it is packaged in Dubuque, Iowa, at an independent, family-owned coffee company for the perfectly nuanced flavor profile that will not disappoint.
Plus, all of their bags have a range of 11oz, 2 lbs., and 5lbs. priced at $9.95, $22, and $55, respectively. Not to mention, this coffee is Kosher Certified by the Orthodox Union.
Moreover, this coffee also has a sustainable source (certified by the Rainforest Alliance). This sustainability results from fair trade and sustainable growth for the sake of farmers and the environment.
As for the taste, the beans are dark, have an almost oily texture, and are aromatic, which gives you a creamy, complex coffee with a silky crema. Furthermore, Verena Street is said to maintain low inventory to guarantee everyone a fresh cup. So, if you want finely ground espresso beans in your coffee maker or coarser grinds, this high-quality blend is always a smart move.
- Sustainably produced
- It has a darker color and a silky texture
- Kosher certification
- Effective caffeine kick
- Relatively expensive
- Larger quantity required
3. Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso
This signature blend of Italian roasted coffee beans is a heavy, full-bodied roast. It displays a toasty, honeyed aroma and notes of cocoa powder and smoky molasses. These gourmet beans are the company’s most popular coffee blend for a reason.
Tasting notes include wine, chocolate, nuts, and spices. This dark roast comes from South America, Kenya, and India and is available in 1lb, 2.5lb, and 5lb bags priced at $20, $30, and $43, respectively.
This blend works great for a steaming hot cup to get you cozied up or an iced coffee on a blistering day. The boost given by the caffeine content is on par with any legitimate coffee seller and has a pleasant initial flavor with no overpowering aftertaste.
Another Kosher product offers a unique spread of blends, Arabica and Robusta. The medium acidity, heavier balance, and flexibility provide a compelling reason to indulge yourself in this blend.
- Relatively affordable
- Kosher product
- No dominant aftertaste
- It has a bit of a mild taste
- Brittle and dry texture
4. Stumptown Hair Bender Espresso Beans
Here is the sweet and balanced coffee that started it all. Hair Bender is the most celebrated blend with a flavor profile that shines no matter how you brew it. Hair Bender depends on coffees from Latin America, Africa, and Indonesia and is headquartered in Portland to achieve a complex flavor profile.
This blend, therefore, has notes of sweet citrus, dark chocolate, and raisin. It is available in 12oz bags for $15 and 5lb ones for $75. These can also have a ground or whole bean grind. Their innovative bags keep coffee fresh for 90 days if left unopened. Furthermore, they roast coffee beans for every taste, from light to dark roasts and single-origin coffees to bold blends, bringing out the full potential of every bean.
Stumptown is a well-known coffee roaster known for sourcing beans from sustainable farms globally—for the betterment of the farmers and the environment—and is a signature American brand. Additionally, the fresh beans give all the more reason to buy them along with a rich, full-bodied taste without any bitterness.
This blend is excellent for espresso as well as other brew methods. It helps that the subtle floral and chocolate yield a complex result. This coffee combo provides a flavorful experience and makes a delicious cold brew. On top of that, Hair Bender has a reputation for staying consistently fresh, encouraging customers to purchase larger quantities through some truly great deals.
- It has a sweeter taste
- Employ sustainable farming methods
- Provide a selection of espresso blends
- Appropriate for milk-based drinkers
- Relatively high-priced beans
- The aroma may be a bit too dominating for some
5. Koffee Kult Coffee Beans Dark Roast
The perfect blend of beans originating in Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil, and Sumatra, Koffee Kult Dark Roast Coffee Beans offer a bold flavor accompanied by a smooth and clean taste. They are flawlessly roasted and packaged to ensure the freshness of the coffee.
Likewise, features include bag sizes ranging from 12oz ($19), 32oz ($32), and 80oz ($72), as well as a choice of whole bean or ground grind. This pure Arabica coffee is then released into cooling bins to offer a more fulfilling taste, and is made available in countless gourmet stores, bars, and cafes!
Furthermore, Koffee Kult takes the extra step to ensure customer satisfaction. You can see this in the small things, with an easy pull tab, the resalable liner, and a valve on the back to squeeze the air out. Additionally, the smoky, almost dark chocolate-like taste requires no cream or sugar, and the strong fragrance leaves little to the imagination in that aspect.
- It offers a variety of grinds
- Barista-level coffee
- Exceptionally smooth texture
- Enticing aroma
- A relatively pricey blend
- Timid dark roast
Clearly, there is a lot to learn about coffee beans, espresso beans, and the nuances of pulling a perfect espresso shot. Likewise, there is a lot more to learn about the brands that make them.
Finally, espresso is a great way to start your day, give yourself a boost of much-needed energy, or unwind after a heavy meal. So, when you pick the right coffee beans for your espresso, you will be well on your way to enjoying cup after cup of joe.
Do not be afraid to experiment with different roasts and types of coffee. The taste of these brands is often subjective, so experimentation is the best way to form your own conclusive opinion. Hopefully, this guide should give you all the knowledge you need to craft those delicious drinks and decide what your new favorite regular blend will be going forward.